Censorship and repression by China continue to be a very important issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. In this latest case, security and intelligence officials from the United States revealed that since 2016 the Xi Jinping regime has created new cyber tools to spy on the citizens of the Asian nation.
New persecution tactics
Along with the restructuring of the People’s Liberation Army, Xi Jinping has allocated a large number of resources to update the spying systems within China itself, allowing hackers to take more radical measures than simply sending messages to the emails of the citizens.
Additionally, these new attacks seem to be mostly aimed at minority ethnic groups in the country. One of the most affected groups, according to the reports are the Uighurs. These people, inhabitants of the Xinjiang region, are already victims of other extreme surveillance mechanisms, such as street cameras with complex facial recognition systems.
According to the words of James Lewis, a former US government official, “the Chinese use their best tools first against their people… Then they become threats to the foreigner.”
Recently there have been cases that confirm Chinese efforts to censor what does not suit them, such as China’s threat to withdraw support from the NBA after a Houston Rockets executive showed its support for the Hong Kong protests or the large number of bots that have been removed from Facebook and Twitter that were publishing false information about the situation in Hong Kong.
The different attacks
Although China has consistently denied the use of illegal tactics to spy and send attacks on its citizens, multiple studies seem to indicate otherwise. Google said these new attacks on iPhone and Android smartphones did not come cheap for the Chinese government, who would have spent millions of dollars on the black market to learn about these vulnerabilities.
Researchers from the Volexity group recently discovered a large amount of malware on Android terminals that tracked Uighurs’ activities and had even spread outside the borders of China.
China’s surveillance attempts have also sweeped from WhatsApp messages against the Dalai Lama’s office and Tibetan government officials, to police messages through the WeChat application to try to convince citizens leaving China to stay in the country.